Captaincy and Sachin Tendulkar don't really get along. At least history says so. Even though the little master was provided an opportunity to lead Mumbai Indians after a non-performing Ricky Ponting dropped himself, it was passed on to Rohit Sharma. But if Sharma was the hands and ears of Mumbai Indians, Tendulkar seemed to be the eyes of the team on Wednesday.
It wasn't official but his actions were an easy giveaway that Tendulkar was in a different zone.
That cherubic smile was missing. Emotions were unusually subdued. There were no high-fives from the newest member of the 40-year club, not even the hearty laugh we are so used to seeing when India are on top.
Eden Gardens chanted 'Sachin, Sachin' but the master rarely looked their way. On the few occasions he did turn around to acknowledge the applause, an entire stand rose to its feet.
But that was it from the birthday boy. Strategically placing himself at either mid-on or fine-leg, Tendulkar was a picture of intensity as he kept an eye on the field placements, occasionally running up to the bowler to give some quick advice.
The entire Mumbai dugout heaved a sigh of relief when they saw the back of Yusuf Pathan after he had blasted 19 runs off the first five deliveries, but Tendulkar remained stoic. Ditto when Gautam Gambhir skied Pragyan Ojha to give a simple catch to Harbhajan Singh.
Mumbai Indians did succeed in reining in Kolkata Knight Riders' run flow, but when opening to chase a tough 160-run target, Tendulkar had to wait for 15 deliveries before he finally got strike.
First ball, Tendulkar danced down the track to Lakshmipathy Balaji but was hit flush on the pads. He did survive the leg-before appeal and took a single off the next delivery but that push too looked edgy, with the run coming off an inside edge.
But the clincher came off Sunil Narine, who set him up with a mix of deliveries. The first two came straight at Tendulkar but the West Indian followed it up with a ripping off-spinner that castled him, middle-stump. Eden however celebrated the Knights' prized scalp as Tendulkar returned, knowing his birthday hadn't been all that happy. India or Mumbai Indians, Tendulkar has never ended on the losing side when it comes to his birthday. Wednesday could write a different script for him. Scorecard